Over 130 years ago, the Brunette River basin consisted of forests, swamp and streams. The area supported a diversity of wildlife including bear and cougars, and abundant salmon and trout populations.
Changing land uses has resulted in the loss of many creeks and a reduction in wildlife populations. Despite the increasing pressure of urbanization, Stoney Creek which exists within the Brunette basin is one of the major fish-bearing creeks in Burnaby and an important oasis for wildlife.
The Stoney Creek Environment Committee (SCEC) is committed to protecting and restoring Stoney Creek through stewardship activities and environmental education. Ecosystems such as the Stoney Creek watershed are complex and consist of many interconnecting factors, each dependent on the proper functioning and survival of the other. In order to understand this system, the SCEC has undertaken a program to inventory and monitor important features of the watershed.
Committee volunteers have offered their individual expertise and received training to conduct studies of stream habitat, water quality, birds, plants, stream invertebrates and juvenile and spawning fish. Geotechnologies are used to map the creek and create materials for visualizing important watershed features.
Monitoring is an ongoing process through which the Committee continues to gain a better understanding of the Stoney Creek ecosystem. This knowledge allows our group to become better educators within the community, evaluate the effects of present land-use on the ecosystem and informatively plan restoration activities. It is the sincere hope of the Committee that sharing of the information we collect will be part of a process to facilitate wiser, more inclusive, more sensitive land-use planning in the Stoney Creek watershed.
The Stoney Creek Environment Committee (SCEC) was co-founded by Jennifer Atchison in 1994. At that time, Stoney Creek had undergone various modifications, driven largely by the development of the neighbourhood. On realizing that there were many different parties who had rights of way or other interests in the watershed, and noting a lack of discussion between them about the issues facing Stoney Creek, Jennifer called a meeting, and the SCEC was born.
Through her tenacity and dedication, Jennifer promoted and defended Stoney Creek, and her work paid off. Jennifer’s engagement and inclusion of young people from the schools and the Ganymede Explorers brought the community into the SCEC’s activities. The young people were always impressed with her energy and enthusiasm, and she loved working with them.
Gradually through partnerships, with groups including the Cities of Burnaby and Coquitlam, Metro Vancouver, BC Hydro, BC Transmission, Simon Fraser University, Dept Of Fisheries And Oceans, and the Burnaby School Board, Stoney Creek has transformed from a waterway blockaded to fish, to a flourishing salmon rearing stream – a feat, considering that salmon had been absent from its waters for nearly 50 years! Sadly, Jennifer had another battle to confront. In the end, cancer took her from us in 2010, but her legacy lives on.
Today the membership of the SCEC carries on the work of protecting the watershed and engaging the community through events like the Great Salmon Send-Off. We also continue to monitor and enhance habitat through our projects and stewardship activities. As you walk along the trails along Stoney Creek you may see the bench dedicated to Jennifer Atchison. We know she would be happy to know that the work of the SCEC continues to succeed.
A tribute to Jennifer Atchison was posted on the Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board (SEHAB) website, written by our DFO Community Advisor. Clearly, she is remembered and recognized by many, and this letter outlines many of her wonderful qualities and achievements over the years. Some of her honours are highlighted in the timeline of the SCEC
Our meeting place on the grounds of the Stoney Creek Community School is named in her honour, the Jennifer Atchison Environmental Centre.
The Stoney Creek Environment Committee (SCEC)
SCEC is a registered non-profit society under BC Nature, dedicated to protecting, preserving and enhancing the natural habitat and wildlife of the Stoney Creek watershed.
The SCEC has been active since 1995, and for years was guided by the tireless efforts of Jennifer Atchison, whose energy and passion continue to inspire and drive the group’s activities today.
Our projects and partnerships bring together a community of volunteers to:
- preserve Stoney Creek as a showcase of urban salmon-bearing streams,
- maintain the water and habitat quality for both the fish and wildlife of the area,
- raise public awareness of natural urban corridors and to bring people and nature together,
- provide opportunities for environmental education in the outdoor classroom that is Stoney Creek,
- promote partnership between the various stakeholders who are active in the area.
You can also find the SCEC hosting and attending community events such as the Great Salmon Send-Off and BC Rivers Day.